Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Paper is not dead!

Before I started this subject I was already working as a teacher librarian. I spent the first few months trying to work out what a teacher librarian should be, what they should do and how to go about it. I looked at my colleagues for examples of what to do and what not to do and decided who I would emulate. Since then, some ideas have changed, some haven't.

It is very hard to separate what I have learnt in the subject of collection management from teacher librarianship. The collection management issues that I have discovered in our library (20 May 2009) are an important aspect of the practice of teacher librarianship. It has been frustrating to learn how things should operate to get the most appropriate resources for your students and find out that whilst the library manager agrees thinks the same way another colleague works actively against it and is unwilling to change.

The professional reading I have been exposed to has given me a fresh set of standards to see my practice and that of my colleagues through. The standards of professional practice for teacher librarians (ASLA & ALIA, 2004) have given me a benchmark to measure my development against and I can see I have a long way to go. From the beginning of my time in the library I have asked questions of my colleagues and see that (for the most part) they are aware of current issues and are willing to discuss them with me. I get well thought out answers that show how our school is doing those things, or how they would if they could and are trying to make it happen. I can see evidence based practice is important to them when they make the time to explain their actions rather than give me the run around or tell me they do it because that was how it had ‘always’ been (14 March 2009).

Reading the forums frustrated me to the point where I did not read them unless I required specific information that someone else may have already asked. On each occasion I found them to be lacking the discussion I was hoping for (25 May 2009) and full of ‘I don’t know where this is’ ‘I can’t do it’ ‘Give me yours’ that I wouldn’t accept from high school students and can understand why Roy was ‘flippant’ with at least one. It really worries me when people about to become teacher librarians display behaviours like that, especially when it is in regard to technology. How are they going to teach information literacy when their own appears so poor? I find the same thing happens frequently on OZ_TLnet although there are some very interesting discussions, such as recent ones on homosexual content in school libraries and the future of teacher librarians, that make up for the other.

Understanding the place and possibilities of teacher librarians in information literacy has been an important part of my learning from this subject. Being able to look at what is missing from the programs at our campus (16 June 2009) and compare them to the possibilities I have been made aware of in the reading and the effect that they can have on increasing student learning outcomes which is one of my school’s goals. The other campus runs much better programs and we need to catch up.

The next question is how to catch up when there is no time (20 May 2009)? Since moving from a standard classroom and staffroom to the library I have noticed it is harder to make the links with other staff that are necessary collaboration. What I have read rings true when I find it is easier to try new things with teachers I have worked with before and feel I need to work on creating that kind of relationship with more teachers but breaking the isolation of the library is difficult.

In the end I now have a clear idea of what a librarian should be and what I still need to learn to be a better one. One last thing I have learned from this subject is that paper is not dead! Paper is portable in a way that online materials, even with downloading and using a tiny net book, can’t be. I can take printed study material to the footy and read them on the train and before the siren just as I could (and often do) with a book. When there is a cheap, recyclable, renewable, flexible, durable method of viewing digital material, I’ll be all for it.

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